bunny boiler

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From a scene in the 1987 film Fatal Attraction where a scorned woman (played by Glenn Close), seeking revenge on her ex-lover (played by Michael Douglas), places his family’s beloved pet rabbit in a pot of boiling water when he is away from the house.[1]



bunny boiler (plural bunny boilers)

  1. (slang, humorous, derogatory) A person who acts (or may supposedly act) obsessively or even dangerously towards another person with whom they were previously, or wish to be, in a relationship. [from 1990]
    • [1988, Glamour, volume 86, New York, N.Y.: Condé Nast, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 159:
      Witness such media events as the Great Old Maid Scare of '86 (sparked by a study suggesting that a woman who hasn't married by age forty has less chance of doing so than of being shot by a terrorist); and the Fatal Attraction Syndrome (the notion that unmarried career women are so unfulfilled they turn into homicidal bunny-boilers).]
    • [1990 December 6, The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Tex.: The Dallas Morning News, →ISSN, →OCLC, page A2, column 3:
      There's nothing like portraying a psychopathic bunny-boiler to boost one's self-esteem, Glenn Close tells Ladies' Home Journal.
      The 1988 and 1990 quotations are literal rather than idiomatic uses of the term, as they simply refer to the scene in the film.]
    • 2001, Sam Priest, “Beware of ‘Bunny Boilers’”, in Shagging for America: (Unwritten Rules for Unrepentant Males), New York, N.Y.: Hangover Media, →ISBN, page 51:
      The bad news is that a small percentage of women are obsessive stalker types or "Bunny Boilers." Bunny Boilers will continue to call and may even wait for hours outside your home or office trying to see you, even though you have made it clear that it was just a one night stand. Bunny Boilers take the fun out of shagging.
    • 2005, Jane Moore, Love @ First Site: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Broadway Books, →ISBN, page 149:
      And I tried a couple of traditional dating agencies, but after parting with a small fortune and being introduced to one nymphomaniac and a couple of bunny boilers, I felt it was better to trust my own judgment and use the Internet.
    • 2009, Stéphanie Genz, “Boiling the Bunny: The Backlash and Macho Feminism”, in Postfemininities in Popular Culture, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, →DOI, →ISBN, part I (From “Feminine Mystique” to “Girl Power”), page 66:
      The 1980s bunny-boiler was perceived to be infinitely more dangerous than the bra-burner; whereas the latter confined herself to a rejection of feminine accoutrements, the bunny-boiler – bolstered by the successes of the women's movement – did not hesitate to assert her rights and use violent means to achieve her goals.
    • 2009, Lynne Graham, The Ruthless Magnate’s Virgin Mistress (Harlequin Presents; 2787), Toronto, Ont.; New York, N.Y.: Harlequin, →ISBN, page 10:
      He wondered why he always landed bunny-boilers who started out cool and calm but speedily went into the pursuit mode of deadly missiles.
    • 2014 March 5, Rosie Andrews, “Foreword”, in Strange Creatures, Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, pages 4–5:
      Neither should we think that Bunny Boilers are always female—this is not the case. However, I think females view the male version in a different light. [...] Women regard him as the cheeky chappie. They seem resigned to his bad behaviour.

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  1. ^ “bunny boiler, n.” in “bunny, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, February 2005 (draft addition); “bunny boiler, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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